How to Get things done

How to Get Things Done If You’re Overwhelmed

When you own a business, it’s hard to know how to get things done when you’re overwhelmed, and everything is on fire. From packaging orders and responding to customer emails to writing blog posts, deciding what fire to put out first can be difficult. And let’s face it, sometimes it’s so overwhelming you might feel like letting the whole damn thing burn to the ground. So what can you do?

Before you give up, try these five tips on how to get things done when if overwhelmed:

1. Identify and Prioritize Your Goals

  • On a sheet of paper (or a Word document), write down all your big-picture business goals.
  • Next, prioritize and number them in order of importance as it relates to your business growth right now.
  • Write out all the tasks that need to be completed to achieve each goal and the due date for completion. For a big goal like launching a new website, that could mean approving the design concept by Friday, finalizing the copy by next Tuesday and choosing photos from the photoshoot by next Friday.
  • On a separate sheet of paper, write down all the personal tasks on your to-do list. Prioritize and number them as well.

2. Use the 4D method 

If the lists seem daunting and you’re not sure how to get things done, use the 4D method (delegate, drop, defer and do):

Delegate: First, what tasks can you delegate? If you feel some resistance at the thought, consider this. Do you want to be a jack of all trades and a master of none in your business, or do you want to be a go-to expert? When you spread yourself thin, you can get a lot done, but it won’t be done well. When you focus on what you’re good at, however, your quality of work will increase, and as a result, your business and customers will benefit.

Can you hire a photographer? Maybe a part-time virtual assistant? Can you sign up for a meal planning service? Or get your kids to participate in chores? Get creative. Even if you’re on a budget, can you cut some expenses temporarily to free up a budget for support?

Drop: Second, what can you drop? Is there anything on the list that isn’t important? A task that won’t bring you closer to your goal or something that doesn’t need to be on the list at all? If it’s not related to the big-picture, drop it.

Defer: Third, is there anything on the list that can be done at a later date? Can organizing the guest room or taking that online class wait? Put it on a “do it later” list, tuck the list away for a slower time and focus on what matters right now.

Do: Finally, AFTER you’ve delegated, dropped and deferred, you should find yourself with a narrow, focused list of tasks that you can do (and do well), prioritized by importance and due date.

3. Eliminate Distractions

You prioritized and created a focused to-do list. You’re finally ready to get things done, and you’re almost in the productivity zone…then a client calls. And you respond to a quick email. Then another email. You decide to check your social media and BOOM! It’s 4 PM, and despite putting in hours, you didn’t get any quality work done.

A recent study shows that it takes 25 minutes to get our focus back every time we’re interrupted. You read that right. To get things done, schedule your workday in 90-minute, uninterrupted time chunks with 5-15 minute breaks in-between.

4. Set Boundaries

Boundaries protect your energy when you have a lot going on. Having consistent, non-work downtime each day is critical to your self-care and productivity. Here are some examples:

  • Saying no to work after 7 PM
  • Turning off social media notifications
  • Only checking emails a few times
  • Eating dinner with family
  • Going for a walk or doing yoga
  • Getting 8 hours of sleep
  • Scheduling personal time each week

5. Pick Three

If you have a long to-do list, it can be hard to decide when you’ve done enough each day. If you struggle with shutting off and setting boundaries, try this trick.

At the end of each day, write down one to three tasks to work on tomorrow. If you don’t finish them, put them on the next day’s list. If you do, even if you’ve finished at noon, give yourself permission to take a break.

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